Every year, AYSO honors volunteers for their phenomenal contributions to the organization and the lives of so many youngsters. AYSO wants to recognize Melani Jaskowiak, Pete Xiques, Kris Graff and Michael Fitzpatrick as this year’s Spirit and Enrichment Award recipients!
Melani Jaskowiak – Section 12
Melani started volunteering with AYSO 15 years ago as a coach and shortly after became a Regional Commissioner (RC). Today, Melani serves as the VIP Administrator for Section 12 and as an advanced coach and Referee. She’s worked with the VIP program at the Region, Area and Section level and organizes the annual VIP SoccerFest as well as the “VIP Night of Empowerment.”
The National Down Syndrome Congress will hold its annual convention in Phoenix, Ariz., and Melani has arranged for the VIP program to be represented at the vendor show. Melani and fellow volunteers will be available to share news of VIP personally and through media presentation.
Coach Pete Xiques – Region 390 – Oak Ridge, Tenn
In 1990, Pete’s daughter came home from first grade and told him she enrolled to play AYSO soccer and that she signed him up to coach. He told her he didn’t know a thing about coaching soccer. To that, she responded “That’s okay. AYSO will teach you!”
Pete is a referee, National Coach and Instructor. He has served as RC, Area and Section staff and as a member of AYSO National Games 2012 committee and the National Coaching Advisory Commission. His daughters are now 31 and 29, but he’s still on a soccer field most days. In 2011, his Region was honored as the AYSO Region of the Year and again in 2012 as Section 5’s Region of the Year.
Kris Graff – Region 1343 – St. George, Utah
Kris joined AYSO in 2007 when she registered her oldest son to play for the first time. Her first season with AYSO Region 1343 in St. George, Utah was spent as an Age Coordinator and her second was as the Registrar. By her third season, she rose to RC and participated in the first ever RC Training. This opened up a whole new world of friends, experiences and self-discovery and after just two years as RC, she became the Area Director and has remained in that role for the past three and a half years.
In her time with AYSO, Kris also served as a U-6 Coach, Regional Referee, Regional Treasurer, Area Management Administrator, Assistant Area Director, Advanced Management Instructor, Section Secretary and Member of the National Management Commission (she still volunteers in many of these roles). Kris is often quoted as saying, “Other than my church and my family, AYSO is my life.”
Michael Fitzpatrick – Area 5B – East Tennessee
Michael became an AYSO coach in 1987 and began refereeing in 1988. Although he enjoyed coaching, Michael always felt more connected with the referee program. Today, he serves as National Referee, National Referee Instructor, National Referee Assessor, member of the Referee Advisory Commission and member of the Legal Commission.
Since becoming a referee Michael has officiated over 1,500 AYSO games and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down! He’s worked three National Games as a ref and though he hasn’t had a family member play AYSO for over ten years, Michael is still very active in his Region and Area serving as a Referee Administrator for both.